It is not yet known whether the ‘child protecting' web censorship plans proposed by XXXXXXXXXXXXX David Cameron will harm games.
But fears are mounting it might.
Cameron's preferred web filter is the TalkTalk-owned HomeSafe. It is an opt-in system for customers but the Government recommends all ISPs use it or similar mechanisms on an opt-out basis. In other words: it is on until you actively turn it off. And HomeSafe includes an option to block ‘games'.
In a worst case scenario, it's not just topics the Government has valid concerns about which get blocked – degrading XXXand troubling self-XXXX sites – but online games, editorial sites, or download stores… anything on the ‘games' blacklist.
So EuroXXXXX.net or ComputerAndVideoXXXXX.com access gets blocked. Popular specialist retail chainXXXXmight struggle. No more visits to the website of Pokemon developer XXXXFreak.
Yes, this is a vision of the filter at its most extreme setting. In a practical sense it probably won't work, or the minority it does hit will switch off or find a way around it.
But a few people I have spoken to are proper XXXXXXXscared that the Government will catch us in the blast radius.
My concern is that the trade just hasn't been vocal about this enough. I've not had an official response from UKIE or TIGA on it yet – although it's not just about a trade body response (but we'd all XXXXXXappreciate one).
We're all to blame. We all saw ‘Cameron clamps down on extreme XXXX' headlines and shrugged ‘Doesn't matter to us, right?'
Well this time it does matter. Any form of censorship should concern a creative industry proud of its artistic output.
Not just because censorship is plain wrong (it totally XXXXXXXis). But because censorship itself modifies behaviour, forcing legit things underground, or makes other attitudes more pronounced. I could tell you the redacted comments here aren't profanities, but how are you to know?
We've been pretty XXXXXXlucky in games to not get dragged into every single media scandal about parenting or content. When we do, UKIE and TIGA broadly respond robustly, and course-correct the XXXXXXXidiots that just don't get games.
But this isn't something we can ignore or just hope won't pan out. We at least need to be aware. Otherwise we all look like XXXXXXXmorons.